Week 2 Fantasy RB Rankings: Must starts, sleepers, potential busts at running back
Derrick Henry, TEN vs. JAX. Henry was limited to 3.7 yards per carry against the Broncos, but he still racked up 31 carries for 116 yards. He will continue to dominate the touches out of the Titans backfield and should have a chance to beat up on a Jaguars defense that he totaled 175 scrimmage yards and two TDs against in their last meeting.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR @ TB
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. ATL
Saquon Barkley, NYG @ CHI. Barkley’s opener vs. the Steelers wasn’t pretty, as he totaled only 6 yards on the ground despite handling 15 carries. That said, the Bears are an easier matchup for Barkley after they allowed 21.1 fantasy points to the RB position in Week 1 against the Lions. He should certainly bounce back as the Giants look to get him the ball frequently.
Alvin Kamara, NO @ LV
Aaron Jones, GB vs. DET. The Lions just allowed the Bears running backs to rack up 124 yards on 24 carries against them, good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Jones had some trouble breaking off longer runs against a solid Vikings run defense, but he still garnered 16 carries, six targets, and logged a TD. In a more favorable matchup, Jones could go off and will have a chance to tote the rock a lot if the Packers get up early.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC @ LAC
Dalvin Cook, MIN @ IND
Josh Jacobs, LV vs. NO. Don’t expect three TDs this week from Jacobs, but he should have a chance to score again even against a tough New Orleans defense.
Austin Ekeler, LAC vs. KC. Ekeler had a weird first game with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. He handled far more of a rushing load than expected — 19 carries for 84 yards — but he only received one target and turned it into three yards. Ekeler is a premier pass-catcher, so eventually, Anthony Lynn will have Taylor funnel targets to him. The matchup against the Chiefs could be a good one in which to do that as the Chargers will likely be playing from behind and the Chiefs allowed the third-most receptions to RBs last year at an even mark of 100. Ekeler racked up 17 catches for 151 yards in two games against the Chiefs last year.
Todd Gurley, ATL @ DAL. Will the Falcons be in the game enough for the team to keep running? That’s the big question for Gurley. The Falcons have struggled to stay close in games the past two seasons which opens up garbage time opportunities for Matt Ryan and Co., but not necessarily for Gurley. The good news is that the Cowboys just allowed Malcolm Brown to rack up 79 yards and two TDs on them, so if Atlanta can score early, Gurley could have a vintage-Gurley kind of day.
Jonathan Taylor, IND vs. MIN. With Marlon Mack (Achilles’) out for the season, Taylor will become the Colts’ lead back. Taylor totaled at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in each of his three seasons at Wisconsin and should only improve in the NFL moving forward. He was stymied by a surprisingly tough Jaguars run defense that only allowed 88 yards on the ground to the Colts, but the Vikings should be an easier matchup considering that they just allowed over 500 yards, including 158 rushing yards, to the Packers. It was encouraging to see that Taylor was targeted frequently in the passing game, too.
Nick Chubb, CLE vs. CIN. With the Browns playing mostly from behind against the Ravens, Kareem Hunt saw more action and actually out-rushed Chubb 72-60 while getting three more carries that the player who was a first-round pick in most fantasy leagues. Chubb should be more effective in a favorable matchup against a Bengals team that allowed 21.8 standard fantasy points to RBs last week.
Joe Mixon, CIN @ CLE. Mixon struggled against a strong Chargers defense and lost a fumble in a disappointing ’20 debut. That said, Mixon still handled 95 percent of the RB work on the ground and will have TD upside against a Browns team that allowed two scores to rookie JK Dobbins last week.
Kenyan Drake, ARZ vs. WAS. Washington stopped the run well in Week 1 and has a top-tier defensive line, but so did the 49ers. Drake was effective enough against them and managed 16 carries for 60 yards and a rushing TD. Drake could’ve done more had Chase Edmonds not vultured a receiving TD from him, so he can still be used as an RB2, albeit a slightly TD-dependent one in a tougher matchup.
Raheem Mostert, SF @ NYJ. Mostert was the clear-cut top back for the 49ers, catching a 76-yard TD and leading the team in receiving yards and catches. He’s a dynamic playmaker, but two things keep him from being an RB1 this week. First, the Jets were actually very good against the run in their Week 1 contest against the Bills. Second, Kyle Shanahan likes to mix up his backs and may give Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman more work depending on the matchup. Still, Mostert is a solid fantasy back who can be trusted.
David Montgomery, CHI vs. NYG. In Week 1 against the Lions, Montgomery averaged 4.9 yards per carry, good for the third-best mark in a single game for his career. He had just 13 carries, but that may have been due to the fact that he was dealing with a groin injury that left him questionable for the game. With more volume against the Giants, he could rack up more points despite the Giants’ solid defensive line.
Chris Carson, SEA vs. NE. Amazingly, Carson carried the ball just six times for the Seahawks for 21 yards in the opener, but he did damage through the air grabbing six passes for 45 yards and two scores. The Seahawks want to be more aggressive passing this year, but even if that impacts Carson on the ground, he still appears to be preferred as a pass-catching back compared to Carlos Hyde. Trust Carson against the Patriots given their decent-at-best front seven.
Miles Sanders, PHI vs. LAR. The Eagles missed Sanders against Washington, as they couldn’t get much going on the ground in his absence. He was progressing from a hamstring injury last week, and if he’s active, he’s a solid RB2 against a Rams defense that just 127 scrimmage yards and two TDs to Ezekiel Elliott.
David Johnson, HOU vs. BAL. With Duke Johnson likely to miss Week 2 after suffering an ankle sprain, David Johnson will have a chance to earn a greater workload. Johnson looked excellent in the season opener and racked up 109 scrimmage yards and a TD while averaging 7.0 yards per carry. The Ravens will be a tough matchup for Johnson but his potential volume is enough to make him a rock-solid RB2.
Mark Ingram, BAL @ HOU. Ingram struggled in the Ravens’ opener and totaled just 29 yards on 10 carries. He should be better off against a Houston team that allowed Clyde Edwards-Helaire to rack up 138 yards and a TD on the ground in his NFL debut. Ingram should bounce back, but if he doesn’t, he will probably have to be downgraded to a flex play moving forward.
Ronald Jones II, TB vs. CAR. Carolina continues to struggle against RBs. After allowing 27 rushing TDs, nine more than the second-most in the NFL, last season, the Panthers gave up three rushing TDs to Josh Jacobs and the Raiders in Week 1. Jones saw 77 percent of the Bucs carries in Week 1, and while Leonard Fournette could eventually emerge and create a frustrating rotation, Jones can be trusted as an RB2 in a much more favorable matchup this week.
Melvin Gordon, DEN @ PIT. Phillip Lindsay suffered a turf toe injury in Week 1 and if he can’t play in Week 2, Gordon will be the clear-cut leader of the Denver backfield. Once Lindsay left the game, Gordon out-snapped Royce Freeman 22 to 6 and he logged a TD. He has a brutal matchup against a Steelers defense that just limited Saquon Barkley to 6 yards on 15 carries, but his volume makes him an RB2.
Kareem Hunt, CLE vs. CIN. Hunt actually played one snap more than Nick Chubb in the Browns’ season-opening loss to the Ravens. Is that a trend, or was Hunt only in more because the Browns were getting blown out? It’s tough to fully say, but Hunt should continue to be the team’s top pass-catching back after tying for the second-most targets on the team (6). The Bengals surrendered 21.1 fantasy points to the Chargers’ RBs last week and on a short week, they may be hard-pressed to improve in that area.
Devin Singletary, BUF @ MIA. Singletary saw virtually equal work to Zack Moss, but he outproduced the rookie. Each had nine carries, but Singletary outpaced Moss 30-11 on the ground. Through the air, he caught five-of-seven targets for 25 yards while Moss caught three passes including a short touchdown. Against a Miami team that allowed 217 yards and three TDs on the ground to the Patriots, Singletary has big-play upside, but the workload is concerning enough to make him a borderline RB2.
JK Dobbins, BAL @ HOU. Like Ingram, Dobbins didn’t do a lot on the ground against the Browns. He had just 22 yards on seven carries. That said, Dobbins found the end zone twice. That could be a sign of things to come for the rookie or it could be early-season touchdown luck. We’ll know soon enough if he’s the top goal-line option in Baltimore but for now, he’s a borderline RB2 in a great matchup.
Malcolm Brown, LAR @ PHI. Brown was the best of the Rams’ three-headed backfield committee and logged team-highs in carries (18), yards (79), and TDs (2). It’s unclear whether he’ll continue to see the most action, but he should at least have a chance to get another TD against an Eagles defense that allowed Peyton Barber to score twice.
James Robinson, JAX @ TEN. Unbelievably, Robinson was the only Jaguars RB to log a carry against the Colts. He had 16 for 62 yards while QB Gardner Minshew and WR Laviska Shenault had seven carries for 29 yards. Robinson will be a volume-based flex play moving forward but it may be hard for him to rack up a ton of fantasy points given that the strength of the Jaguars offense is the passing game.
Zack Moss, BUF @ MIA. If you’re looking for a reason to start Moss despite the fact that he was largely outplayed by Singletary, this is it. Moss had seven red-zone carries in Week 1, good for the third-most in the NFL. Singletary only got one. Moss may end up being the bigger TD threat, so if this trend continues, he could eventually overtake Singletary though he mostly looks like a TD-dependent flex at this time.
Benny Snell Jr., PIT vs. DEN. Snell looked far more explosive than James Conner last week, rackingup 113 yards on 19 carries. Even with Conner active this week, Snell could see more touches and production, making him a risky flex.
Cam Akers, LAR @ PHI. The second-round pick may be slightly behind Malcolm Brown in the Rams RB rotation, but he still did get 14 carries against the Cowboys. Sean McVay made decide to ride the hot hand from week to week, so Akers has the upside of an RB2 but the floor of a low-end flex play.
Nyheim Hines, IND vs. MIN. Hines was one of Week 1’s biggest surprises, as he played a huge role in the Colts’ offense. Hines led the team in rushing with 28 yards and a TD while catching a team-high eight passes for 45 yards and another score. He may be the new Austin Ekeler for Philip Rivers and with Marlon Mack out, Hines should have a big role against a Vikings defense that was gashed by the Packers in Week 1. If he has another big week, he may deserve RB2 consideration in standard and is probably already at that point in PPR.
Adrian Peterson, DET @ GB. Despite signing just a week before the season, the 35-year-old Peterson handled more carries (14) than Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift combined. He logged 114 scrimmage yards and will look to take advantage of a Packers defense that just allowed two TDs to Dalvin Cook.
Sony Michel, NE @ SEA. The Patriots only threw the ball 19 times against the Dolphins. With Cam Newton at the helm, the team is unsurprisingly using a ground-dominant attack on offense. Michel was the lead runner in the Patriots backfield (aside from Newton) and saw 10 carries for 37 yards and a TD. Michel is still regaining his explosion after offseason foot surgery, but he should be a TD threat despite Bill Belichick’s penchant for rotating backs in the backfield.
James Conner, PIT vs. DEN. It’s unclear what Conner’s role will be after injuring his ankle in Week 1, but he put in back-to-back full practices on Thursday and Friday, so he shouldn’t be to hampered by the injury. He could still cede touches to Benny Snell Jr., making Conner tough to trust all formats.
Peyton Barber, WAS @ ARZ. Barber may have only averaged 1.7 yards per carry against the Eagles, but boy was he effective in short-yardage situations. Barber pounded in two scores at the goal-line and appears to be the top red-zone specialist in Washington. He’s a TD-dependent flex and it may be tough to trust him against an Arizona team that slowed Raheem Mostert down considerably (3.7 yards per carry for Mostert). Still, Barber is the NFL leader in red-zone carries with 10, so that’s enough of a reason to trust him.
Joshua Kelley, LAC vs. KC. Kelley emerged as the thunder to Austin Ekeler’s lightning and gained 60 yards on 12 carries along with a TD against the Bengals. The Chiefs allowed 18.3 fantasy points to Texans RBs despite blowing out Houston, so if the Chargers can at least stay close to the Chiefs in the first half, Kelley should get a chance to post solid yardage totals and, perhaps, a TD if he continues to get red-zone carries (4).
Antonio Gibson, WAS @ ARZ. In his first NFL action, Gibson totaled 11 touches for 44 yards, good for exactly four yards per touch. As he gets more comfortable, he should earn a bigger role but for the time being, he’s a borderline flex play who may lose TD opportunities to the aforementioned Barber.
Tarik Cohen, CHI vs. NYG. The good news: Cohen saw seven carries and totaled 41 yards as he split carries more with David Montgomery than initially anticipated. Bad news: He only saw two targets on the game and turned them into six yards. As Montgomery gets healthier, Cohen’s workload will decrease, so if he’s not getting targets, that’s a bad sign for his value in both standard and PPR leagues.
D’Andre Swift, DET @ GB. Swift had an ugly drop on what could’ve been a game-winning TD against the Bears, so that may cost him some carries. That said, it appears that the rookie is the top receiving back after catching 3-of-5 targets for 15 yards, so that’s a plus. He also was the only Lions RB to log a TD. With a good outing against the Packers, he could leapfrog Peterson and if the Lions are losing, the game script may have a bigger contest in store for Swift as a receiver.
James White, NE @ SEA. In Week 1, White actually had more carries (5) than receptions (3) which is unusual for the pass catcher. However, he still was able to total 52 scrimmage yards and should eventually become one of Cam Newton’s favorite receivers. The Seahawks allowed the 11th-fewest points to RBs in Week 1, but they did allow a TD to Todd Gurley early and 10 targets to RBs. Perhaps White can get in on some of that action.
Latavius Murray, NO @ LV. One of the biggest surprises of the Saints’ win over the Buccaneers was that Murray got 15 carries compared to Kamara’s 12. Perhaps the Saints just wanted to limit the wear and tear on Kamara early in the year, but it’s an encouraging sign for Murray’s owners that he may have more of a role on offense than initially anticipated. Murray had six red-zone carries to Kamara’s four, so Murray could be a sneaky TD-dependent flex against a Raiders defense that allowed 25.5 fantasy points to Panthers RBs last week.
Leonard Fournette, TB vs. CAR. Fournette has a ton of potential against the second-worst fantasy defense against RBs in Carolina. The Panthers allowed 38.6 fantasy points to RBs last week and three TDs to Josh Jacobs. He’s still behind Ronald Jones in the pecking order, but perhaps with an extra week to prepare in the Bucs’ offense, Fournette can generate more than five carries for five yards.
Frank Gore, NYJ vs. SF. Le’Veon Bell will miss a few weeks with a hamstring injury, and that will leave the 37-year-old Gore as the starter. Gore always has touchdown upside, but the 49ers have a strong defense and the Jets could find themselves down early. Definitely scoop Gore off waivers if you can, but this may not be the best matchup for him.
Jordan Howard, MIA vs. BUF. Howard saw eight carries for the Dolphins in his debut. He turned them into just seven yards, but he did score a touchdown. His matchup with the Bills is a brutal one, but Howard always has the potential to rumble in for a score.
Royce Freeman, DEN @ PIT. Phillip Lindsay (toe) will be out, so Freeman could see more action against the Steelers. Given what Pittsburgh did to Saquon Barkley, Freeman isn’t anything close to a recommended start.
Myles Gaskin, MIA vs. BUF. Gaskin led the Dolphins with nine rushes and 40 rushing yards against the Patriots. He’s the most unproven of the Miami RB room, but they may be planning on making him the lead back. Even still though, it’s hard to trust him with uncertain snap share against one of the league’s best defenses.
Alexander Mattison, MIN @ IND
Boston Scott, PHI vs. LAR. Scott is banged up, and it seems that Miles Sanders will be returning this week, so there’s little appeal for the Eagles top handcuff.
Tevin Coleman, SF @ NYJ
Kerryon Johnson, DET @ GB. Johnson got the second-most carries among Detroit RBs (7), but he only turned them into 14 yards. Right now, he’s clearly behind Adrian Peterson in the pecking order and it appears that D’Andre Swift has the advantage as a receiver. It’s hard to trust Johnson, but we’ll see if his workload changes in the coming days.
Jerick McKinnon, SF @ NYJ. McKinnon finally got to play for the 49ers after two seasons that he missed in full. He caught a TD against the Cardinals and should continue to be the 49ers’ top pass-catching back. His carry split between Mostert and Coleman may not be substantial, but he still has enough upside, especially in PPR formats.
Carlos Hyde, SEA vs. NE
Chris Thompson, JAX @ TEN. Thompson didn’t get a carry for the Jaguars in Week 1 and only caught two passes for six yards. The team should look to get him more involved in the game, but until it happens, fantasy owners won’t be able to trust him, even in PPR.
Chase Edmonds, ARZ vs. WAS
Darrel Williams, KC @ LAC
Matt Breida, MIA vs. BUF. Breida appears to be playing third fiddle to Howard and Gaskin. He does have some explosive ability, so perhaps he will get his chance eventually. But for the time being, he’s nothing more than a handcuff.
Tony Pollard, DAL vs. ATL
C.J. Prosise, HOU @ BAL
La’Mical Perine, NYJ vs. SF
Jamaal Williams, GB vs. DET
Giovani Bernard, CIN @ CLE
J.D. McKissic, WAS @ ARZ. So much for McKissic being atop Washington’s depth chart. He totaled four touches for -1 yards in Week 1. Ignore him for the time being.
LeSean McCoy, TB vs. CAR. McCoy caught his only target for two yards against the Saints. He’s the third-string option behind Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, so feel free to ignore him for now.
Brian Hill, ATL @ DAL
Rex Burkhead, NE @ SEA
Corey Clement, PHI vs. LAR. If Sanders and Scott aren’t healthy, Clement may end up being the lead back. However, it appears that at least Sanders is trending in the right direction, so unless that changes, Clement’s value will be minimal.
Devontae Booker, LV vs. NO
Dion Lewis, NYG @ CHI
AJ Dillon, GB vs. DET
Jalen Richard, LV vs. NO
Jaylen Samuels, PIT vs. DEN
Darrell Henderson, LAR @ PHI. It looks like it will be all Brown and Akers until Henderson is fully healthy as he returns from a hamstring injury. Even then, he may have trouble cracking the RB rotation.